News | Jun 23, 2021 | Christyn Binder
Celebrate The Start of Summer With Spraygrounds!
In celebration of the beginning of summer, Donna Guzewski, Plumbing Discipline Lead at Arora Engineers, Inc. (Arora) discusses one of her all-time favorite project types – spraygrounds!
According to the South Philly Review, Philadelphia’s 90+ spraygrounds and splash pads officially opened Memorial Day weekend and will stay open seven days a week, weather depending, until Labor Day weekend. Arora has provided plumbing engineering services for nearly a dozen spraygrounds across Philadelphia, and Donna has participated in almost all of them. Not only do Donna’s specific skills in plumbing engineering, expertise with domestic water connections, and familiarity with relevant local, state, and national codes and regulations translate perfectly to sprayground projects, but she genuinely enjoys the work because it evokes memories of taking her own children to play at waterparks and splash pads when they were younger.
Can you walk us through a typical sprayground design project?
Once the City decides they want to retrofit or create a new sprayground, we work with one of the City’s three preferred vendors who create a preliminary design for the sprayground layout replete with flow rates required for each of the fixtures. Our engineers then request a flow test from the City to ensure there is enough flow and pressure in the existing water system to meet the flow rate needs for the sprayground fixtures. Once the flow test results are received from the city, our engineers then calculate an estimate of the total gallons of water used per minute by the sprayground equipment outlined in the vendor’s preliminary design.
Depending on the results of this estimate and the available supply determined by the City’s flow test, the City, its vendor, and Arora will work together to either create the final design of the plumbing system needed to supply the fixtures, or rework the design with low flow spray features. The goal, of course, is to provide a fun experience for the children, as well as to conserve water as a resource.
What sort of sustainability measures can be implemented in sprayground projects to conserve water and energy?
One of the most complicated aspects of sprayground projects is trying to figure out whether there is enough water for the spraygrounds. Low flow spray features can help to conserve water and energy. Low flow spray features can help reduce the water flow from about 15 to 20 gallons per minute to about five. There are various other design options as well, including a controller that allows the sprays to cycle so it reduces the flow to a rate that everyone can be happy with.
A timer and a rain sensor can also be installed to reduce the number gallons and conserve water. Rain sensors are often used for irrigation to ensure water is only activated when needed based on what the local weather conditions are throughout the day. If it senses that it is raining, the spray features will not turn on at all, thereby conserving water. Timers limit the hours of operation so that water features are not running 24/7.
What is the typical time of year these spray grounds are turned on?
The spray grounds operate during the summer months. They are shut down around the second week of August, around the time kids are starting to go back to school, so having the sprays turned off as school starts back up is safer for the kids and the community’s infrastructure. The spraygrounds are winterized so that the underground infrastructure is not damaged due to frost and freezing.
Why do you believe spraygrounds are important?
Summer is supposed to be fun! Kids are not in school. It’s hot and what a great way to cool off! Spraygrounds are important because they give kids just that! A place to cool off, and overall, just have fun. I find that the smaller children can use a sprayground much easier than they would a pool, as it is also often safer for them. Many parents work, and the city rec centers offer programs to keep kids occupied while not in school. The playground updates are to improve safety, to improve the playground equipment, and provide the kids with a place to hang out and have a little fun.
Overall, it is nice to know you’re working on a project that will eventually give some relief to the kids in the area on those hot days. If my kids were little, I know I would be hanging out at a sprayground with all the other children and running around after them!
To view some of our sprayground projects, click on the photos below: